Born and raised in Vienna to a traditional Nigerian family, Kenneth Ize has always maintained a strong connection to his roots. Upon graduating from University of Applied Arts Vienna in 2013, Ize launched his eponymous label at Lagos Fashion Week, but took a two-year hiatus to study for an MA before relaunching his line in 2015. Known for his display of technicolour suiting and use of traditional Aso-Oke fabrics, his bold, androgynous looks have garnered the fashion world’s rapt attention. The tailored suits, bold forms, simple cuts, and striking colorways of his collections have revealed a reverence for his Pan-African cultural heritage and traditional styles, as well as a penchant for immaculate tailoring. Speaking to The New York Times in May 2019, Ize shared “We’re reviving, reinterpreting and giving new context to artisan techniques that have given meaning to West African identity.”
Aside from the simple silhouettes, clean lines, and practical shapes that have become his hallmark, Ize’s largely unisex collections dismiss fixed notions of gender. Infused into his work is a non conforming androgyny, his oversized tunics, blazer dresses and halter neck style waistcoats speaking to anyone regardless of gender identity. “I'm a gay man, and I'm a gay Black designer,” he explained to i-d magazine of his embracing of this fluidity. “I don't want to be a gay designer that designs masculine things, it's not my truth. I want to see more vulnerability in men, less power. I think that's very important.”
A finalist of the esteemed LVMH prize in 2019, the designer has been celebrated across major international news and fashion publications, from Vogue to Business of Fashion, with CNN describing Ize as the “name on everyone’s lips” and responsible for “redefining African luxury.” And if all that wasn’t enough, he’s also been tapped to collaborate with the Karl Lagerfeld brand on an exclusive capsule collection and was named a winner of Vogue Italia’s annual Scouting For Africa initiative, a victory that culminated in his freshman appearance at Paris Fashion Week in 2020.
More recently, Ize made the finals of the International Woolmark Prize and was honored as the winner of Arise Fashion Week’s inaugural 30 Under 30 competition where he presented a collection that once more highlighted his signature fabric and imparted an air of thoroughly modern minimalism.
- International Woolmark Prize, Finalist, 2021
- Arise Fashion Week, 30 Under 30, Winner, 2020
- Arise Fashion Week, Designer of the Year, 2019
- LVMH Prize, Finalist, 2019